Patrick Bamford new-found “work rate” and “tenacity” has taken him to the next level at Leeds United, according to Alan Hutton.
The former Aston Villa and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 27-year-old always had the technical ability to shine but suggested Marcelo Bielsa’s demands had got the very best out of him.
Bamford netted his 100th professional goal of his career, and his 12th for the season, in Monday night’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
He now has now struck 38 times in 94 games for the Whites, five more goals than he scored in 97 appearances for Middlesbrough.
Hutton, who came up against Bamford five times during his playing days, admitted he was buzzing to see the striker thriving in the Premier League and suggested an increased work rate had helped him make the step up.
Hutton told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “He’s really kind of went from strength to strength.
“I think there were a lot of questions hanging over his head at the start of the season, would he be good enough, would he be able to step up and that’s exactly what he’s done.
“Yes, he’s missed a couple of opportunities, as a striker you’re going to, but I think when you’re in a team like Leeds who create that many chances and love to play on the front foot, get forward and press high, you’re going to get opportunities.
“I’m actually happy for him, he’s went and done really well and they’re now talking about England call-ups, is there a possibility of him sneaking into the squad? We’ll find out more in March.”
Asked what he thought had changed in Bamford since he played against him, Hutton said: “He was always technically very good, his ability was always there and I think what Bielsa’s done to him is he’s working very hard.
“Even if he doesn’t score, he always gives you that work rate, that tenacity to close down. I think that’s what’s different, that’s what I see as a difference.
“I think that’s what Bielsa demands, that high work rate, you see how they press from the front and he actually starts the press and then everyone follows in behind him.
“Maybe in previous years he didn’t do that when he was out on loan from Chelsea, he was just seen as more of a striker and it didn’t quite work. I think now that he’s added that to his game, he’s went up a level.”